Helen Sanders -Health Ambition
Spider veins are a harmless but unsightly condition. Their name comes from their spider-like appearance – clusters of spindly, twisted veins just under the skin, usually dark blue, purple or red. They’re extremely common – up to 55% of women and 45% of men experience spider veins during their lives.(source)
I have them myself from years of working on my feet in my twenties. I’m not concerned enough to have them medically removed, but I am happy to try a few things at home to minimise their appearance. Read on for tips on how to get rid of your spider veins naturally.
What are spider veins?
As I said above, spider veins are tiny blood vessels under the skin. Normally, these veins are not visible but there are various factors which cause them to swell, twist and come to the surface. They usually appear on the lower legs but sometimes can be found on the face, breasts or other body parts (source).
Your blood usually flows back from your extremities to your heart. There are valves along the way to stop your blood pooling. However, sometimes these valves don’t function correctly. Think of it like putting your foot on a flowing garden hose. Blood begins to accumulate.
Spider veins are usually painless but in severe cases they can become hot and itchy. Your skin may even become thin and discoloured in the area, eventually causing painful ulcers (source)
What causes spider veins?
Spider veins are more common in women than men and risk increases with age. The main contributing factor are your genetics – if other family members suffer from varicose veins, swollen ankles, hemorrhoids or spider veins, you’ll most likely get them too. Some other risk factors are:
• Hormonal changes e.g. pregnancy, birth control pill
• Being overweight
• Jobs where you are on your feet all day
(source 1, 2, 3)
How to Get Rid of Your Spider Veins Naturally
1. Never cross your legs
If you’re in the habit of crossing your legs, stop it NOW. I know it’s comfy but the weight of your leg is squeezing your blood vessels and creating that “stepping on a hose” effect. (source 1, 2)
2. Wear compression stockings
If you work at a job where you’re on your feet all day, I highly recommend getting fitted for compression stockings. They work by helping your legs push blood back up to your heart. You can buy them at most pharmacies and they’re one of the best ways to prevent spider veins and more serious varicose veins. (source)
3. Lose weight
If you have excess weight, chances are you’ll have a worse time with spider veins. Not only does it increase your risk of developing them due to increased pressure on your circulatory system, it also makes your symptoms worse. Obese people report more aching and throbbing pain – it’s actually proportional to your body mass index. (source 1, 2, 3)
4. Exercise regularly
Running in particular is great for your blood circulation. You know the way your heart pounds when you’re exercising? That’s a sign that it’s pumping extra hard and pushing blood from your extremities right back to your core. (source 1, 2, 3)
5. Elevate your legs
Another way to give your circulatory system a helping hand is to lie down with your feet raised above your heart for around 15 minutes a day. Gravity will do its job to prevent blood build up in your lower legs. I do this while checking Facebook on my phone before bed. (source 1, 2)
6. Don’t wear high heels
I was never a fan of high heels but now that I know they increase risk of developing spider veins, I’m not even tempted to try. Heels higher than 3cm are the worst offenders. They stress your veins by putting your feet and legs into an unnatural position (source).
There are many shoes now designed for walking and improving leg circulation, those are a good investment if you’re at risk for spider veins.
7. Check your diet
I love the saying “let food be your medicine” and try to live by it as much as possible. In this case, ginger, onion and garlic are the best foods for spider veins. They have a blood thinning effect which reduces pressure on your veins.
Drinking alcohol excessively can increase your risk of spider veins as it stretches out your blood vessels. Too much salt is also a bad idea. Make sure you get plenty of berries, citrus fruit and whole wheats. (source)
8. Get a massage
If you need an excuse to treat yourself – massaging is a very effective method to improve your circulation, thus minimising spider veins. You can add to the beneficial effect by using oils such as lemon essential oil and grapeseed oil (source)
9. Herbal supplements
There are numerous different herbal supplements on the market which can help prevent or reduce spider veins. They usually come in tablet or cream form. As with all herbal remedies, they can interact with prescription medicines, so check with your doctor or pharmacist if this is a concern. Some examples are:
– Ginkgo biloba: Strengthens vessel walls and improves circulation (source)
– Witch hazel: Anti-inflammatory effects and constricts spider veins (source)
– Horse chestnut: Helps reduce swelling and redness, strengthens vessels (source)
10. Avoid tight pants
Wearing clothes that are tight around the waist or groin is uncomfortable, but did you also know that it increases your risk of developing spider veins? It works like a tourniquet to restrict blood flow, so don’t do it. (source)
As I mentioned already, some of the herbal supplements and dietary changes above are not suitable if you’re taking a prescription medicine or suffer from a health condition. Check with your doctor or pharmacist first.
If you develop varicose veins or ulcers, you need to get it checked out immediately as it could be a sign of something more serious.
I hope these tips on how to get rid of your spider veins naturally have been helpful. They won’t disappear completely but can reduce the appearance. I like to use this as my excuse for a monthly leg massage – it’s for my circulation, I swear! Let me know how you get on with these methods in the comments, and if you have any other ideas I’d love to hear them too.